Tips for Maintaining Your Residential Solar System

May 27, 2023

By: Chris Gersch

There’s nothing quite like a residential solar system for providing your home with energy. These technological wonders are extremely energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and easy to care for. While these units last a long time, you must practice regular maintenance to keep them going. 

Without proper care, solar panels can experience extensive damage. Sun damage, debris buildup, and ice accumulation are extremely common among homeowners needing to care for their panels properly. Regular maintenance care and etiquette are crucial, as they will help your panels last for many years.

Here are some common sense, practical tips that you can use to maintain your residential solar panel system. If you follow these tips and understand when and how you should have professionals work on your home solar system, you’ll be set for a long time.

Article At A Glance

Monitor Your System’s Performance

Residential solar systems require consistent monitoring to perform well. Most modern units have what is known as solar panel monitoring systems; you can use your monitoring system to track your unit’s performance from the palm of your hand. What’s cooler than watching your unit’s performance rating go up and down on your smartphone?

Don’t panic If you see any signs of fluctuation. It’s normal for system efficiency levels to vary. For instance, a sunny summer day will yield more energy than a dreary day in December. It’s when you notice long-term performance issues that you should become concerned.

Although watching your unit’s performance levels deteriorate might be upsetting, you should feel good knowing you can use regular maintenance to keep everything working smoothly. Even better, you have experts you can count on waiting for you to call them. These professionals have the experience and grit needed to get your system working again in no time.

Watch for Signs of Damage

Have you noticed any dirt or debris on your solar panels lately? Can you see ice or snow building up on top of them? If so, you need help; visible signs of damage are a tell-tale indicator of solar panel troubles.

You should check your solar panel monitoring system to see if this damage is having an impact. Usually, you’ll be able to match the time that the problems started with a noticeable decline in unit performance. But if you ever feel unsure about what to do, or if you aren’t comfortable removing debris or buildup from your system, feel free to contact your local energy professionals.

In the meantime, start a regular maintenance routine that plans for damage before it happens. If you can watch for bad weather or note when dirt likes to gather on top of your panels, you’ll be in a much better place to handle future issues.

Avoid Soap and Commercial Cleaning Agents

Soap and other over-the-counter cleaners might be convenient for some tasks, but did you know they can wreak havoc on residential solar systems? Many homeowners assume there’s nothing wrong with using soap on solar panels, scrubbing away at any dirt they see and unwittingly damaging their panels, potentially beyond repair.

Solar panels must be utterly immaculate and free of any soap scum or streaks to convert the sun’s rays into energy effectively. If you want to clean your solar system, simply use a garden hose at a low-pressure, cool setting; then, use a lint-free, microfiber cloth to dry them off. Scrubbing your panels will cause nasty streaks that may just permanently damage your residential solar system.

Turn Your System Off Before Cleaning

Ensure that your solar system’s powered off before performing any maintenance. By turning your system off, you protect yourself and your panels from potential electrical damage. Cleaning your panels while still running can also tamper with your solar panel monitoring system, giving you inaccurate readings that won’t tell you how well your system’s doing.

Pick the Right Season for Maintenance

Did you know the good season makes all the difference for solar panel maintenance? Cleaning during the summer is a pain; you must manage extreme heat and prevent your panels from warping. Likewise, winter cleaning isn’t ideal either, but it is sometimes necessary when snow and ice threaten your system’s safety.

Fall and spring are ideal for solar panel cleaning. Think about it: these seasons have mild temperatures, making cleaning a breeze. By cleaning in the fall or spring, you can also sweep away any pesky leaves or dirt that built up during the previous winter.

As always, consider your local weather conditions before performing any maintenance. Gathering the right tools can help, too; you’ll need a ladder, a water hose, and perhaps a cloth to ensure you can clean your panels properly.

Protect Your Solar Panels from Weather Damage

Unfortunately, weather damage is one of the leading causes of solar panel failure. Snow, ice, heat — all these conditions and more can wreak havoc on your panels, knocking them off track. Even worse, however, these problems can affect your unit’s energy efficiency; heat, for instance, causes a marked decline in unit performance.

Inspecting your panels can prevent panel damage during intense storms and sweltering summer days. However, if you need repairs, don’t worry; professional help can make a difference.

Ensure Safety Above All Else

Most residential solar systems are either ground-mount or roof-mount systems. As the names suggest, ground-mount systems rest on flat, level ground, while roof-mount systems occupy space on your home’s roof. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.

Trying to avoid falling while cleaning solar panels is a tough task. It’s worth considering that roof-mount systems take a lot of work to clean, as you must access your roof with a ladder. If you lose footing, a safety harness can protect you, so consider purchasing one before attempting a DIY roof repair job.

Contacting Professionals for Help

Solar panel systems can go haywire for any number of reasons. Why stress out about your unit when you can call for professional backup? The experts can identify and fix any issue, no matter what, providing a high standard of care and attention that simply can’t be beaten.

Solar installer companies often specialize in repair services, too, so you could work with those who installed your panels to fix them.

The Cost of Residential Solar System Maintenance

DIY solar panel maintenance costs a little, but it’s less effective than professional care. Although expert maintenance costs more — typically about $450 a year — you’ll save money by preventing future repairs. That said, your costs for solar panel maintenance can vary.

Usually, professionals charge around $150 for a thorough panel inspection and the same rate for individual cleaning. Most homeowners opt for anywhere between two and four cleanings a year. However, if your panels are especially prone to dirt buildup, you might need more maintenance sessions.

Solar panel maintenance costs are worth it, as they keep your home’s system running smoothly. You’ll also reap the benefits of energy savings, often up to 60% compared to traditional power sources.

Solar Panel Warranties

It’s common in the solar panel industry for solar installation companies to offer warranties on their residential solar systems. Some even cover damage costs. A good warranty can give you peace of mind, protecting your panels if they decline in performance prematurely.

Usually, these warranties last 10 or 20 years, but some warranties extend even longer than that! So, if you’re concerned about your beloved solar system wearing down before it’s supposed to, a warranty might be perfect. That being said, remember: without proper maintenance, you might void your warranty.

How Often Should I Maintain My Solar Panels?

Like many things, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cleaning and maintaining your solar panels. While it typically won’t require much work, you should still plan for solar panel maintenance. Scheduling an annual inspection is a wonderful idea since it’ll give a professional time to check your unit for any signs of damage or problems before they worsen.

Regular cleaning is also something you must prioritize. When you own solar panels, it’s your responsibility to keep your precious system in good condition, but you get to decide when you’d like to clean your panels. 

That being said, you must consider your local climate and circumstances. Do you live in a dusty, dry region? If so, you’ll have to clean your panels more often, as you don’t have constant rainfall keeping them clean.

You’ll learn much about your solar panels ‘ performance with a regular maintenance plan that has you cleaning four or so times a year. Identifying and addressing problems will be easier than ever if you take the time to inspect your unit regularly.

Chicago’s Residential Solar System Experts

RxSun is Chicago’s number-one choice for residential solar system installation and repair. We service all types of solar systems, whether you have ground-mounted panels or roof-mounted ones. Our experts will arrive at your home ready to work, repairing or installing solar panels as needed.

We’re licensed, bonded, and certified professionals with a proven track record. You simply can’t go wrong with us. Call us at (800) 607-9786 to schedule your appointment today!

About The Author

Chris Gersch

Chris Gersch

Mr. Christopher Gersch brings over 20 years of professional leadership experience and a dynamic understanding of energy markets to the clean energy industry. He began his career as a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade and then utilized his expertise to form eleven businesses, including Verde Solutions, Navigate Power, RxSun, and Fresh Coast Solar.

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